The Future of Retail – How a Positive CX Can Compete Against Next-Day Delivery

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

When was the last time you physically went to the mall in search of a product, without doing any research online? According to a study from BigCommerce, only 9.6% of Gen Z reports buying items from a physical store. So, your answer is probably not in the last five years.

Consumers today don’t shop exclusively through a single channel. They’re buying online, in-store, through retail chains, and from independent brands alike. This surge in omni-channel retail has created a challenge of designing a cohesive CX at every touchpoint.

It seems like more companies are failing than succeeding in the retail industry, and according to research firm Reis Inc., the overall 2019 U.S. retail vacancy rate is 10.2%. It’s time for the retail industry to learn how to leverage the customer experience, both online and offline. By doing so, companies can address specific customer pain points to help level the playing field and stay competitive in this world of next-day delivery.

Personalization in the Digital Age

According to Edelman, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that offers personalized experiences. Pair these with retailers offering free shipping for orders reaching a certain dollar amount and free returns, and customers will return time and time again.

Customer experience in the retail space no longer needs to be designed for the average customer. Rather, it can, and should be, designed for individuals. With the help of AI, the retail industry is perfect for utilizing the voice of the customer to give shoppers exactly what they want and need?

Beauty retailer Sephora took the makeup industry’s biggest pain point and used it to its advantage: figuring out which color and brand matches a customer's skin tone. Sephora developed its Color IQ program, where customers have their skin scanned and receive a personal reference number for finding their perfect shades of makeup. The four-digit code is added to a customer’s Insider Beauty account (Sephora’s loyalty program) and can be used in stores and online to tailor products.

Since its launch in 2012, Sephora stores have generated more than 14 million Color IQ matches. This has significantly boosted brand loyalty, as customers are more incentivized to exclusively purchase makeup from the retail chain. It also adds value to the Insider Beauty program for customers who are looking for a simplified and personalized CX.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s imperative for beauty companies to listen to what customers are saying about their wide range of products. Our platform ingests omni-channel data and uses machine learning to assign sentiment and categorize the findings. Here’s a demo video to show how beauty brands could benefit from using Stratifyd.

No Cash? No Problem: The Evolution of Digital Payments

Convenience and speed have become the universal expectations during a consumer’s payment experience when shopping. This means U.S. retailers must keep up with payment tech to meet customers’ demands to be able to pay for anything, anywhere, at any time.

Amazon led the charge in convenience by creating the one-click pay feature so customers can purchase items with (you guessed it) a single click, without having to re-enter billing, payment, or shipping information. This feature has even been extended to Amazon Alexa, where customers can purchase items through voice commands. (Side note: Stratifyd also does speech analytics, see here.)

With the rapid innovations in mobile payments, consumers are now more comfortable than ever with making in-app purchases. Starbucks’ mobile order-and-pay system leads the field of mobile payments, ahead of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. The coffee chain has reportedly accounted for 12% of all U.S. transactions this year.

Both online and brick-and-mortar retail companies are fighting to take the concept of convenience and speed to the next level by implementing new scan-and-go technologies. Amazon recently opened several Amazon Go stores with no cashiers or cash registers. Customers scan an app upon entry and are tracked by cameras and sensors throughout the store, placing items taken off the shelf in a virtual cart. Customers are then charged a few minutes after leaving the store. While Amazon expands into the exact space it once aimed to defeat, their new stores are tailored for the future of retail; one that is specifically targeted for tech-savvy consumers who are always on the go (sorry, Grandma).

Walmart began beta testing scan-and-go technology in 2018 in an effort to improve CX. However, after receiving poor customer feedback and low customer usage rates, the company quietly pulled the service this year. Customers stated that the average number of items purchased during a typical trip to Walmart made the scan-and-go feature too difficult. They also found physically scanning large items, like fruits and veggies, to be awkward.

While this service is supposed to remove friction from the consumer’s buying experience, it’s interesting to see how one small difference between two similar scan-and-go systems can completely alter the customer experience. Though this may be the future of retail, it looks like there are still several steps to take before scan-and-go and autonomous checkout becomes the buying norm.

CX and the Retail Industry

At the end of the day, online and in-store experiences are all part of the retail industry. As innovations in tech and AI continue to evolve the omni-channel retail landscape, companies must keep CX at the forefront to stay top-of-mind in a sea of competition.

(Hint, hint: #getStratifyd) We put together a demo video to show our platform can help retailers increase customer acquisition and retention by analyzing, categorizing, and visualizing actionable insights in minutes.